Watching adult entertainment isn’t necessarily the sort of thing you’d feel comfortable admitting to everyone, but reading about the adult entertainment business? Somehow, that feels much more socially acceptable.
Here are must-read books about the, uh, more sordid side of the entertainment world:
Read the last Popdose on 7 celebrity biographies you probably haven't read, but should.
Ordeal: The Truth Behind Deep Throat and Out of Bondage
Linda Lovelace with Mike McGrady
Until Harry Reems decides to take a break from his burgeoning real estate career and write a proper reminiscence of his days as an adult film star, the best look into the life and times of a Deep Throat star comes to us via Ms. Lovelace. After reading her biographies and learning of the physical and mental abuse she suffered at the hands of husband Chuck Traynor, however, you may find it difficult to find anything sexy about the film that turned her into a household name.
The Other Hollywood: The Uncensored Oral History of the Porn Film Industry
Legs McNeil and Jennifer Osborne
It wasn’t exactly a stretch to find McNeil compiling an oral history of punk rock in Please Kill Me (he was, after all, once the editor of Punk Magazine), but who could’ve expected him to turn his sights from punk to porn?
Whatever his reasons for settling on the topic, McNeil, this time collaborating with Jennifer Osborne, turns in another great effort, offering a fascinating look into the evolution of porno, exploring not only the sex but also the drugs, disease and criminal activity that infiltrated the business over the decades. Those with delicate sensibilities may find themselves afraid to take the plunge and pick up this hefty tome, but once you start reading, you’ll likely find the text too titillating to put down. (Heh. Titillating.)
Prisoner of X: 20 Years in the Hole at Hustler Magazine
If you’d expect the story of a man working under the supervision of Larry Flynt to be squeaky clean, you clearly haven’t been reading the publication that kept MacDonell semi-gainfully employed for a couple of decades. (Is it still considered “gainful” if you’re doing bit parts in porn films?) His time with Hustler may ended with a bit of abruptness after participating in a roast for Flynt, but by then, MacDonell had already accumulated plenty of wild stories, and you can almost picture the gleam in his eye as he relates them.
Big Bosoms and Square Jaws: The Biography of Russ Meyer, King of the Sex Film
The most frustrating thing about McDonough’s remarkable look into Meyer’s life is that any interest you may have in investigating the director’s cinematic oeuvre will require a tremendous financial investment—only the immortal classic Beyond the Valley of the Dolls is readily available for purchase at a decent price—but that doesn’t make Meyer’s tale any less enthralling.
It has been said before that the only two things Meyer ever cared about were World War II and heaving, pendulous breasts, both of which are in strong supply in the story of his life and times, but it may surprise you to learn that he was a war photographer of some note. Ah, if only he had successfully sealed the deal to write and direct a movie for the Sex Pistols...but at least the story about the attempt is in here.
Embedded: Confessions of a TV Sex Journalist
It would sound like the plot of a porno if it wasn’t a true story—a young man graduates from college and stumbles into a gig working for a sex-themed television which finds him traveling around the world and filming a myriad of sexual activities, attending sexual-themed events, and interviewing individuals working in some sort of sex-related occupation.
Basically, if you’re at all familiar with Playboy TV’s Sexcetera (and I’m willing to bet there are a lot more of you than would actually be willing to raise their hand and admit it), you’ve almost certainly seen Dale’s work, and the stories of his experiences are both amusing, enthralling and, when dealing with his efforts to pursue a romantic relationship with one of the women he encounters during his travels, more than a little bit poignant.
The Happy Hooker: My Own Story
Given how far we’ve come (or deeply we’ve descended) in what we can say and do in various entertainment mediums since the original publication of Hollander’s memoir in 1972, you might think that it would make for an almost quaint read. You would be wrong. Granted, she’s probably written things far more explicit in her long-running column in Penthouse magazine than she reveals here, but that doesn’t mean you won’t raise your eyebrows more than a few times during the course of her recollections of her time spent in the world’s oldest profession.
How to Make Love Like a Porn Star: A Cautionary Tale
Jenna Jameson with Neil Strauss
Considering the title, Jameson’s career notoriety and the fact that her co-author’s name also appears as a collaborator on Motley Crue’s The Dirt, anyone who doesn’t expect to have their jaw drop at some point during the proceedings is just being naïve. As a staple of the adult film industry for more than a few years, Jameson has plenty of anecdotes up her sleeve (although if she’s not wearing sleeves, we’re not going to try and guess where she stores them), and with Strauss’ assistance, she’s compiled an imminently readable account of her path into the industry and speaks to many of the situations in which she found herself. Lowbrow? Absolutely. But it’s a hell of a read nonetheless.
Strip City: A Stripper’s Farewell Journey Across America
Hipsters will tell you that Diablo Cody’s Candy Girl is the only book about an unlikely stripper than you’ll ever need to read. Don’t believe them. Burana’s story is much more interesting. Sitting on the precipice of marriage, she decides to revisit her former career—stripping, naturally—and go on a “farewell tour,” if you will, traveling the country and doing her best to put a little bit of dignity into a much-maligned form of entertainment.
It’s surprisingly gripping to read Burana’s difficulties in slipping back into stripping, finding gigs and fans not nearly as easy to come by as they once were, but she makes the most of the experience, and the combinations of her personal philosophies with her recollections of her trials and travels will leave you saddened when her journey finally ends.
Will Harris is a staff writer with Popdose.com, as well as a regular contributor to The Virginian-Pilot, in Norfolk, Va., and an associate editor for the web magazine Bullz-Eye.com. He loves his wife, cherishes his daughter and now accepts PayPal.